It was about five o'clock on a windy afternoon. There was a fifty mile an hour northerly wind. We were headed to Las Vegas for a photography convention. I was traveling with my mother, father, and the studio manager, Jigger Schmidt. We were in an old green Dodge station wagon, towing grandpa’s old bright yellow trailer that he probably bought in the 50’s, and I could see my dad, who's driving, nodding off.
This is after the adventures near Salt Lake City where we lost two universal joints. Count 'em...TWO. I saw one bouncing down the road. We had coasted over to the shoulder and dad had hitchhiked into the city for a tow truck...twice.
We were then headed down a highway in Southern Utah. Jigger and I were in the back seat. He was asleep. As was my mother, in the front seat. Sand dunes all around us.
Dad looked at me in the rearview mirror, "Brent, it's your turn to drive."
"But dad, I'm thirteen!"
"Doesn't matter, I'm falling asleep here." Dad said.
We were late, Dad was scheduled to speak in, like, ten minutes, and we were about a hundred and twenty five miles away.
He pulled over to the side of the road, and we switched places. I had just sat down, and adjusted the seat when I heard my dad start to snore.
I thought, “Great. Now we’re all gonna die.” I felt alone. I felt like I was put in this situation, and I had to figure it out, by myself.
I started driving the huge, old, green station wagon with the yellow trailer behind it. The peeling part of the wood decals blowing in the wind as we traveled southwest.
Did I mention that there was a northerly wind that must have clocked out at fifty miles an hour? Well, there was a northerly, 50 mph wind.
I did well. Well, I did well for the first 150 to 200 yards. When I was up to speed, going about fifty, I started to over correct.
I zig-zagged in my lane for a while. Then, I widened my over correction into the shoulder and the on-coming lane. The on-coming cars were honking as they passed in their shoulder.
Dad was still snoring, and Jigger was asleep, but my mom sitting next to me, had woken up. The look on her face was priceless. It was a look of impending death.
When we left the road...Yes, we did leave the road...Actually, we left the ground. We caught about a foot of air. I think my mom’s screams woke up everyone in the back seat.
All I remember is Jigger Screaming “HOLY S@%T!”
We lost all four hubcaps. But somehow Dad and Jigger were able to get us out of the dune we landed in. The trailer was still attached to the car. And EVERYONE was now up, and willing to take over driving from me.
We went to the convention, and Dad’s program was rescheduled.
It was in an auditorium with a stage. Dad, Jigger, and I started moving the wall portraits from the trailer to the stage.
When we were finished, we were told that there was a scheduling snafu, there was a star studded dance show that was supposed to use that stage to rehearse. In the end it was all worked out. The curtain was drawn, and dad got to use the front of the stage, while behind the curtain, the dancers danced.
I had heard that speech about a thousand times, so I wanted to go back to the room and get my swim suit on and go out to the pool.
I went backstage, where they were testing lights and effects. There was a brunette in a mink coat, watching the tests. I looked up at the thin, green laser beams.
“Thanks.” she said.
Walking away, I was able to put the voice with the face. I had just spoken to Lynda Carter. And “Neat lasers.” were the words that I had chosen.
We traveled to the Grand Canyon after the convention. That’s when my father said something that Jigger would quote until the day he died.
A Japanese couple were standing at the edge of the canyon, motioning for my dad to use their camera to take their photograph. They didn’t speak a word of English. He walked over and grabbed the camera. The couple backed up so they would be right next to the edge. Dad was looking through the viewfinder.
He put a hand up and said, “You know what Smokey the Bear says...Don’t fall off the cliff!”
He clicked the shutter.
The funniest thing about the whole trip is my father sees no humor in the movie Vacation.